With opening day just a few days away, it’s time to take a look at the 2018 New York Mets. With a new coaching staff in place, the 2018 Mets are looking to bring back the magic from the 2015. A little disclaimer before moving forward, I 100% believe extended rosters should be to start the season, not the end of the season. However, that is an argument we have had 100 times on the SNDPODCAST show so I won’t be talking about it here.
Being the pitching coach in Cleveland, new manager Mickey Callaway Embed from Getty Images is going look to bring the magic back to the young pitching staff of the Mets. We already know that one of the young studs, Zack Wheeler will begin the 2018 season with the Minor league AAA team the Las Vegas 51s. Along with new pitching coach David Eiland, the Mets believe the Wheeler needs to go spend some time in the minors and find the guy he was before his tommy john surgery. Along with Jason Vargas starting the season on the DL, it’s likely that one-time top prospect Rafael Montero will start on the DL as well. The rotation to start the season is officially set for the start of the season. Noah Syndergaard is going to start the first game of the season followed by Jacob deGrom. The two of them will be followed by Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, and recently announced 5th starter Seth Lugo. Embed from Getty Images Lugo should be able to hold onto the 5th spot for a little while, the only real threat at this time I believe will be Jason Vargas. Vargas has a fracture on his non-throwing hand and shouldn’t miss to long as the rehab has already begun. Vargas will start the season the DL which opens a spot for Jacob Rhame in the bullpen. I don’t expect to see much of Rhame in April, but I do expect he will be the first guy sent to the minors for anybody off the DL. The rest of the bullpen is basically locked in. While Callaway has publicly said there is no official closer, I do expect AJ Ramos and Jeurys Familia to be the backend of the bullpen. I am intrigued to see how he will use Gsellman. With Jerry Blevins being the lefty specialist, along with sprinkles of Paul Sewald and Anthony Swarzak coming out of the pen, Gsellman should and could be used very similar to Andrew Miller. Miller, is a guy who can come out and pitch 1 or many innings. With Callaway’s background as a pitching coach, and Eiland, who just recently won the world series with the KC Royals in 2015, I expect the pitching staff to be one of the tops in the league.
A big question this year, will be the Mets outfield. Minus Cespedes playing left field, I believe that the other two sports aren’t locked in. On January 10th, the Mets would resign Jay Bruce to a 3-year $39 million deal. You would think at that time that Bruce was a lock to play in right field. On January 23rd, the Mets would sign Adrian Gonzalez to play first base. This opens up a chance to Bruce to spend time at first base. With Gonzalez most likely being the starting 1st baseman, I expect Wilmar Flores to play vs left handed pitching. I also believe the Mets will see Bruce at first base as well. With Gonzalez being up there in age and having back issues, it just makes sense considering Bruce has plenty of experience at first and can see time there. As for the outfield, center field is the most interesting spot. With Michael Conforto nearing a comeback from shoulder surgery, he’s position is basically going to be based on who’s playing the best in center field. After a great spring, I expect Brandon Nimmo to earn the opening day nod in center and with Conforto closer to coming back than expected, where does that leave one-time gold glover Juan Lagares. Embed from Getty Images
After a gold glove season in 2014, Lagares signed a 5-year $23 million contract with a 6th year option. Since than Juan has struggled at the plate and has had both wrist and thumb issues. In my option, Lagares is set up to be a glove/ a pair of legs off the bench. Will he get to play, of course he will, especially vs left handed pitching, but I expect him to be a mainstay on the bench. As for when Conforto returns, it will really be based on how Nimmo is playing and leading off. I do expect Conforto to take over the center field and the lead-off spot when he returns.
Embed from Getty Images For opening day, I expect to see Nimmo leading off and playing center field. Behind him, as a surprise, I expect to see Cespedes batting second and playing left, following by Bruce batting third and playing right. Cespedes batting second can come as a surprise to a lot of people, but you need to realize he’s the best hitter on the team. With Nimmo, and eventually Conforto leading off, they are both patience hitters and will give Cespedes a ton of RBI chances. Also, the 2 hitter is known for 4-5 at bats per game. After Bruce, I expect to see new Met third baseman Todd Frazier. What can I say, I will always have a soft spot for David Wright, but Frazier is the starter at third as I do not expect to see David play again. Behind Frazier should be switching hitting second baseman Asdrubal Caberea, you know the same guy who wanted to be traded in July when the Mets wanted to move him to third and or second, so the top prospect can be called up? Behind Cabby expect left hander Adrian Gonzalez. Personal, I like 2-5 year ago Gonzalez, this one, I hope he’s just holding the spot for Dom Smith to be honest. I do think Gonzales will be a good clubhouse guy, but I don’t know how long his back will hold up. After that is probably one of the more interesting positions on the team. The catcher spot is going intriguing to watch. Kevin Palwecki and Travis d’Arnaud both never really gained an edge in the catcher spot during the 2017 regular season. Embed from Getty Images During the spring training, Palwecki earned opening day, I also expect him be the official Noah catcher. I’d love to see Palwecki earn the everyday role, but I just think that d’Arnaud will end up being the guy. Either way, I don’t see why they can’t combine for 30 homers out of the 7 spot in the lineup. Finishing up the lineup, top prospect Amed Rosario batting 8th. Rosario will not and should not be the everyday 8 hitter and I don’t expect this to last all season. If Rosario can learn to be more patience and learn to walk more, I expect him to eventually become the lead-off hitter for the New York Mets. The bench is another interesting spot. The main guys are going to be Wilmer Flores, Jose Reyes, Juan Lagares and of course the backup catcher. The biggest surprise is Phillip Evans making the team for the bench. I do expect Evans to stick a little while as he is just another utility guy who can play multiple positions. With all of this being said, I don’t see why this team can’t be in contention for a wild card spot. I believe they can even fight for the division. If the pitching staff can stay healthy and be able to carry the team during that time of the summer in which the bats get cold, which we all know it happens to all teams, who knows how good this team can be.
Finally, LET’S GO METS!